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JazzWeek is the Billboard of the jazz music industry — the trade paper for the musicians, industry insiders, and ancillary folk — and its weekly Jazz Chart is also analogous, the standard gauge that the field uses to determine an album’s success in sales and radioplay. So it’s a pretty big deal to make that chart’s top 10, but as of last week D.C.’s own Steve Herberman has done it with his Ideals CD. The fact that he’s for all intents and purposes a strictly local musician, who releases his own recordings, makes the feat all the more impressive.
Herberman’s got a smoky, delicate sound that’s recognizable within one bar of his playing, and Ideals shows it off in a close-knit trio setting that plays to Herberman’s subtleties and nuances; bassist Tom Baldwin and Mark Ferber take credit, too, both of them thundering virtuosi who here show sides of rare sensitivity. Herberman is the star, though, showing off his ability to compose and play pieces as intricate as spiderwebs (“Let Go”) and as fragile (“Ideals”), but also burn through bop standards like “Delilah.” But he’s got a firm grasp on swing, too, which he joyously brings to “Soul Eyes” and “I Want to Be Happy” without compromising his dark-note style.
In short, Ideals is a damn good record, which is why it’s doing so well. You can pick it up yourself through Amazon, Herberman’s website, or at any of his local performances. Tomorrow night he’ll be at Ranazul Tapas/Bistro in Maple Lawn, and Saturday at Coco’s Butter Cafe in Columbia.